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African Masks. What are they for and what do they mean?. Types of Masks. Masks are organized into 8 types. Headdress- an headdress that resembles an animal or spirit that accompanies a costume. Face Mask-most common, covers the face with openings for the eyes and mouth.

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african masks

African Masks

What are they for and what do they mean?

types of masks
Types of Masks
  • Masks are organized into 8 types.
  • Headdress- an headdress that resembles an animal or spirit that accompanies a costume.
  • Face Mask-most common, covers the face with openings for the eyes and mouth.
  • Horizontal Plank Mask-these types of masks is worn on top of the head and it resembles an owl or bird in flight.
  • Helmet Masks is carved from a solid piece of tree trunk, it is hollowed to fit over the head and with carved out openings for the eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Body Mask-covers the entire body
  • Helmet Crest: Worn on head during ceremonies
  • Cap Crest: worn on head during rites of passage
  • Multi wearer mask: Worn by several people at once.
african masks3
African Masks
  • Africa is a land with many different tribes and many different customs.
  • African masks are the resting place for spirits of many kinds.
  • Every mask holds some sort of power.
  • Masks are brought to life by talented dancers and actors. By movement and music, the spirit is comfortable enough to rise out of the masks and enter the body of the dancer.
  • Masks also helped govern the village or city it lived in. The men that own and wear the governing masks helped with judging criminals, collecting fines, and tending to the country’s needs.
  • Spirits express themselves and come forth during rituals and ceremonies such as harvest, initiation, funerals, or war.
masks influenced african society
Masks influenced African Society
  • If mask is pleased with the village he/she lives in, then he will reward them with things such as good crops, beautiful children, and a civilized society.
  • Masks can aid the people of the villages.
  • Masks are also worn to honor ancestors. An inherited mask that is powerful can bring high status to the new owner.
  • Masks were often worn into battle for spirits protected its wearer.
  • Masks and the spirits within them have greatly influenced African Culture. They have aided the Africans in the running of their villages and communities. They have provided entertainment and happiness. It is said that the people find meaning in life when they can believe in something. Masks are what Africans look to and believe in. The beautiful and expressive society of Africa would not be able to exist without these wonderful masks.
pwoom mask
Pwoom Mask
  • Name: pwoomitok / ishendemala, or ishyeenmaal
  • Tribe Bushoong, Ngeende: Kuba kingdom
  • Country Zaire (now People’s Republic of Congo)
  • This mask is worn by members of the babande society, responsible for the apprehension of criminals
bongo mask
Bongo Mask
  • Name: Bongo
  • Ngeende (linked to Bushoong): Kuba kingdom
  • Country Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Bongo holds second place as the king’s mask. It is a dance mask, with large nostrils. The dancer wears the mask pushed back over the head.
lula mask
Lula Mask
  • Name Lula
  • Tribe-Lula
  • Country-Zaire
  • Masks such as this one are used to prevent witches from coming in contact with initiates during the rite of passage.
kifwebe mask
Kifwebe Mask
  • Name:Kifwebe
  • Tribe Basongye
  • Country: Zaire -Lusambo province
  • The mask was used to aid the leaders in the exercise of their economic and political power, sometimes with the help of witchcraft, buchi, or magic, masende.
unknown zaire mask
Unknown Zaire Mask
  • Nothing is known about this lovely wood carved mask.
  • Shown is a elaborate headdress .
mblo mask from ivory coast
Mblo Mask from Ivory Coast
  • Name: Mblo
  • Tribe Baoulee: SubgroupYaure
  • Country: Ivory Coast
  • The masks used by the societies of the Guro & Baoule at their ceremonial dances.
  • This mask represents a mythical god.
  • It is uncertain which of the many gods are represented by this mask
antelope mask from mali
Antelope Mask from Mali
  • Antelope Mask
  • Bwa (Bobo)
  • Mali and Burkina Faso
  • wood, natural pigments
  • The dancing with masks on market days and at funeralsand initiation ceremonies honors the spirits and brings blessings.
waniugo mask
Waniugo mask
  • Senufo, "Waniugo" Mask
  • Tribe:Senufo (Siena)Region: Northern part of the Ivory Coast and southern Mali
  • The combination of animal features symbolizes the chaos in the universe and as such, the mask was used by a group of dancers to represent some mystical monsters.
bamoum court mask
Bamoum Court Mask
  • Bamoum Court Mask
  • Tribe: BamoumRegion: CameroonSize: 18”Weight: 3lbs 11ozMaterial: wood
  • During the royal festivities, a dancer wears the mask not on his face but on top of the bamboo cage on his head, surrounded by a collar of palm fibers.
chokwe mwana pwo mask
ChokweMwanaPwo Mask
  • Chokwe, "MwanaPwo" Mask
  • Tribe: Chokwe (Bachokwe, Bajokwe)Region: Angola and southern part of Democratic Republic of the CongoSize: 13"Weight: 1lbs 11ozMaterial: wood, fabric
  • Mwanapwo" masks are dance masks and are mainly worn in the "makishi" dances, that take place at the end of initiation ceremony. Sometimes they are also used at ceremonies to bring prosperity to the village.
fang mask
Fang Mask
  • Fang mask used for the ngil ceremony, an inquisitorial search for sorcerers. Wood, Gabon, 19th century
igbo mask agbogho mmwo
Igbo mask - AgboghoMmwo
  • Maiden masks are used mostly during agricultural festivals (usually the dry season) and the second funerals of prominent society members. On latter occasions maiden spirits are invoked alongside other spirits as appropriate escorts of the highly respected dead into the spirit world. During agricultural or other ceremonies, however, maiden spirits appear to aid in watching over the living and to promote abundant harvests, fertility, and general prosperity.
yoruba mask
Yoruba Mask
  • Worn at dances and festivals that celebrated agriculture and rites of passage.
sowei mask the water spirit
Sowei Mask-The Water Spirit
  • Sowei Mask
  • Mende people, Sierre Leone and Liberia
  • This mask is worn by a female elder of the Sande women's society. Although the mask is carved by men it is the only mask reserved solely for women. The initiation and socialization of females takes place in Sande camps, where young girls learn basic Mende female values. They are trained for marriage, in domestic and family issues, about economic pursuits, and in singing and dancing.
kifwebe mask19
Kifwebe Mask
  • Kifwebe Mask, female type
  • Songye people, Zaire
  • Kifwebe performers are seen as supernatural beings and use their sorcery to maintain social control. The female type of this mask is connected primarily with the physical world . The mask is believed to vitalize the power of witchcraft, and activate the spirits which contribute to the birth of coming generations.